Confession time: My partner and I have been watching a lot of Supernanny lately.
I watched the show from time to time when it first went on the air, almost ten years ago, but Caroline had never seen it until recently. I was channel surfing on a Saturday morning and landed on an episode that I remembered as particularly interesting. She has been hooked ever since.
We have become slightly obsessed with the idea of raising kids together. What will they be like? What will we be like? In what ways can we compliment each other’s parenting styles? Where are we most likely to have weak spots?
I think it’s the dog’s fault, really. We’ve been raising this awesome puppy for about five months now:
My thoughts have taken a more serious tone recently, however. For a while Caroline and I had tons of fun stuff to think about with regard to the kiddos. We like to plan and fantasize about our future so it was natural for us to talk about things like our kid’s names and how many we would have (in a perfect world where one or both of us don’t call it quits after bringing one more little monster into our house).
But, now, we have to start figuring out how we’re going to procure this little person.
Intellectually, I’ve always had a good idea of what having a child means for most gay and lesbian couples. If neither person comes into the relationship with a preexisting offspring and no one wants to knock boots with some random person outside of their relationship (ick, by the way), things can be very complicated and expensive. In a lesbian relationship, there is a set of pretty heavy decisions to be made:
1. Do either or both women want to experience pregnancy?
For me, that answer is an emphatic “no.” A “no” felt on so many levels that I will eventually write another post about it. For Caroline, it’s more complicated. She’s pretty nervous about pregnancy and isn’t very interested in blowing up like a balloon, not to mention labor and delivery concerns. However, she’s also worried about making a decision not to have this life experience that so many other women get to have. Part of her also wants to have a mini-Caroline running around, spreading adorable little Caroline genes.
I support her in whatever decision she makes. Sure, mini-Caroline would be a magical creature. Mini-Caroline would also probably cost less to procure than not-Caroline (more on that later). But, my partner is on her own with regard to the final decision. I’ll listen to her, talk her through it, but I can’t make that call.
2. If so, where’s the sperm coming from?
If Caroline decides to try to become pregnant, we’ll wrestle with this for a while. We’ve already ruled out asking friends. The question at hand is whether or not we become the type of people who are picky about the baby daddy. Do we care if dude went to Oxford? Does he need to play sports? What if his favorite band is Creed?
Should he look sort of like me? Or, should we find someone of a different ethnicity so that any future babies adopted from the Congo look a little more like mini-Caroline? This last one is not a joke, even though part of me wants to laugh at the question. We are so in the family planning weeds.
One thing I know: people need to stop suggesting that maybe my brother could be a donor. It’s sweet to want to make sure that my genes get to jump into the mix, but that just doesn’t work for us. It’s just too messy. No pun intended…
3. Say we find some awesome sperm. Now what?
This one was daunting for me at first but I think that it may actually end up being more easily solved than I originally thought. It’s a numbers game, and numbers are solid, if a little confusing.
Each procedure available has different costs…mentally, physically, and monetarily. Here’s what I think I know about intrauterine injections (IUI) or “doctor with fancy turkey baster” and in vitro fertilization (IVF) or “doctor with extreme needles”:
IUI used to be called ‘artificial insemination’ and IVF is the most common of several other assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments.
People usually start with IUI and it is much simpler than IVF. You take some pills and then you get inseminated until you get pregnant, run out of money, or the doctor says that it’s not working and you need to try something else.
IUI works 5-20% of the time, mostly dependent upon on whether you take fertility medication, if the sperm you’re using has good motility, and how friendly the woman’s vagina is, from what I can tell. We won’t have to worry so much about motility since we’re purchasing sperm that already meets a certain bar, rather than using someone specific’s fresh but maybe not as hearty sperm.
Note 1: I will not make a joke about the love of my life’s vag. I will not make a joke about the love of my life’s vag.
Note 2: Just the thought of all the sperm, hospital visits, etc. is already making me gag.
Cost-wise, IUI has it’s ups and downs. One treatment can be anywhere between $1,500-4,000 before you even count the cost of sperm ($500-1000) and some people do up to five or so treatments. Each failed treatment also has a hefty mental toll that I don’t even want to think about now. And, if IUI doesn’t work? That’s when things appear to get really messy.
IVF sounds horrible. You take lots of medication to stimulate follicle growth, and get monitored quite a bit until it’s time for the doctor to remove your eggs (apparently, painfully). Then, the eggs are fertilized and left for a few days to see if the cells divide and an embryo develops. Next, the doctor will call to tell you if any embryos can be implanted and, hopefully, if more can be frozen for later. If yes, you go in for yet another procedure and then hope for the best. It sounds like the month and a half from hell and it costs over $12,000 per cycle.
What if pregnancy is not an option?
Therein lies adoption and a whole new host of questions and costs.
Public adoption or private adoption? This basically amounts to asking if we need our version of the perfect baby. What does that even mean for us? If so, how long are we willing to wait and/or how much would we pay for that kid?
Public adoptions can be nearly free. In fact the government gives so many stipends and tax credits after the fact that you end up making money, not paying it out. Private adoptions run $25,000-50,000 most of the time.
Caroline and I struggle a bit with this last set of questions. Answering them will mean figuring out if we are interested in potentially adopting a child who may either have or be at risk of having mental or physical disabilities. Many children in the child welfare system have been exposed to tobacco, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy, for instance.
I don’t like the idea of saying no to a kid just because it’s not healthy (we wouldn’t if Caroline got pregnant and had a special needs child, after all). Caroline smartly notes that, by virtue of us noting that we would be willing to adopt a special needs child, we will surely have one placed with us.
Since she’s not comfortable with the public route, my guess is that we would go private. If so…
International kiddo or domestic kiddo? This one seems fairly easy, given the literature. The first page of articles upon Googling the pros and cons of domestic vs. international adoption lean fairly heavily toward domestic. Whew…one question down. (Though, after reading, I’m interested to know why people go with international adoption at all.)
What do we do with all of this?
Hell if I know. We’re at least a year away from taking any steps toward ‘mothers’hood. Researching and writing about it is another step in my process of wrapping my brain around the issue so that I can eventually feel more comfortable acting on a plan.
The number of questions, considerations, and x factors is staggering. We know that we’re going to have kids but it’s hard to imagine doing any of this at this point.
I’m interested to see if anyone else has good resources to pass along though. Something to help us make sense of this process. Any takers?
This is where I would generally end my post with some witty wrap-up about Supernanny but I’m just too overwhelmed. Instead, I’ll end with another confession: I am smart, successful, funny, attractive, 32, blissfully in love and actually jealous of the girls on Teen Mom. Help!